Do you have the right driver’s license to drive an RV? I was so surprised, actually shocked, the other day to find out I did not have the right license to drive our motorhome, at least in Arkansas! The RV dealer had repeatedly said, “You don’t need a special license to drive a motorhome.” Well, that was WRONG!
What license is required to drive an RV?
Any RV under 26,000 pounds and under 45 feet is good to go with a standard driver’s license in any state. After that, it gets a bit tricky. For over 26,000 pounds and longer than 45 feet, trailers over 10,000 pounds or with multiple trailers, some states require special licenses.
Special driver’s licenses for some states
Not all states require special licenses for driving or towing over 26,000 lbs. The requirements for driver’s licenses vary in the states that do between Class A CDL, B CDL, B, C, D, E, F, double RR and single R. Who knew? Did you know?
Class A CDL: Commercial CDL—Think commercial semi-truck with tractor trailers or towing multiple vehicles totaling over 26,000 lbs. or a vehicle over 26,000 lbs. and towing a 10,000 lb. trailer.
Class B CDL: Hmm, Arkansas requires a Class B commercial driver’s license for any vehicle over 26,000 pounds. That causes a lot of discussion among RVers online. RVs are usually not a commercial vehicle. There was so much discussion that after not getting a clear answer on the Arkansas DMV website I called. I was told, according to the DMV CDL department, “A Class B CDL is required for all vehicles over 26,000 lbs., even RVs, whether commercial or not.”
Class B Non-commercial license may be required if driving a single unit over 26,000 lbs. Some states will issue a Class B non-commercial license even when not required, if requested.
Class C CDL: Required to drive a vehicle transporting over 16 passengers.
Class D: Standard, non-commercial driver’s license required to operate a vehicle under 26,000 lbs., and in some states personal use RVs over 26,000 lbs.
Class E: South Carolina’s designation for over 26,000 lbs. for a single vehicle.
Class F: South Carolina’s designation for driving an RV over 26,000 lbs. and towing 10,000 lbs.
Double RR: Towing both a fifth wheel and a trailer together.
Single R: Endorsement in New York state for over 26,000 lbs.
Geez, are you confused yet? I sure was. I spent my time looking at charts online and found they all differ in states’ requirements. Ones that are not listed as needing special licenses may indeed require one. Ones that are listed as needing one, might not. Yep, confusing.
Don’t believe everything you read online!
I visited multiple websites and they all differed to some degree. I am deep into researching this and making phone calls, and I am finding a number of errors! Did anyone do their research or did AI write all these laws? And remember, don’t believe the RV salesperson either.
Several websites list the RV driving rules across the U.S. This seems to be the most accurate one, and yet there are discrepancies. Camping World even has a chart, but it also differs info obtained from calls to a few of the states’ DMV websites.
With all the different information out there, you need to fact check with your home state for its requirements. Even better than their website is a direct call to the state DMV. I have found getting to the CDL department right away shortens the wait time.
Calling requires dedication to being on hold. And, after hours on hold, getting the “Thank you for your patience” does wear thin.
These are discrepancies I found from charts or the state’s official websites.
Minnesota: Although a Class B CDL is listed as needed, a quick call to the DMV CDL department said that no Class B license is required for driving a private RV, so a Class D license is fine.
Kansas: Kansas is listed as requiring a Class B CDL, but says it is not required for non-commercial RV use. They will issue a Class B license if desired.
New Mexico is listed as needing a Class B CDL or Class E and, again, is not required for non-commercial RV use, per phone call to the New Mexico DMV.
Can I drive in a state that requires a special license if I don’t need one in my state?
If you’re concerned about license requirements in the states you are driving through, check with that state ahead of time. While most states honor the licenses issued in other states, some states don’t.
In Arkansas, NO! Don’t cross that state line and get stopped without a Class B CDL. They will ticket you. To add more confusion, Arkansas said they were following Federal Guidelines.
Do you know anything more about this? Do you have any experience with a special driver’s license for your RV? Please leave a comment and explain.